Today and tomorrow we will wrap up a look at the top story lines from around the Southeast for the upcoming college football season.
Today, we focus on the ACC.
1. Showcase teams: Clemson and Florida State look like the best two teams in the conference; it just happens that they are in the same division. The Atlantic Division again should come down to a showcase game between the Tigers and Seminoles. Clemson’s advantage? It has a third-year starter at quarterback in Tajh Boyd, while the Seminoles are starting a redshirt freshman in Jameis Winston, although Winston is really talented.
2. Getting defensive: Georgia Tech has struggled for years on defense, and that has held this program back. The Yellow Jackets are hoping a former standout player, and former defensive coordinator, for the program in Ted Roof can turn things around. Roof has switched the Yellow Jackets to a 4-3 scheme, which has moved Jeremiah Attaochu to defensive end with the hopes of setting him loose on opposing quarterbacks.
3. Hurricanes resurgence: Miami was picked in the preseason to win the Coastal Division, but the Hurricanes have to overcome lingering NCAA issues and their own missteps on the field to finally get back over the hump. Al Golden is a terrific coach and seems to have the program headed back in the right direction.
4. New faces: The conference welcomes new programs in Pittsburgh and Syracuse this season. The Orange have long been targeted by the conference since expansion heated up with Virginia Tech, Boston College and Miami joining the conference in 2003. The new programs aren't powerhouses, but both should help the conference’s depth.
5. Can the Hokies bounce back?: Virginia Tech had been the model of consistency with double-digit win seasons from 2004-11, but the Hokies really struggled last year and finished 7-6. Most of the problems were on offense, but the Hokies need to rejuvenate their recruiting efforts to remain in the ACC elite.